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Gendered governance and the MDGs; where are we?

The Millennium Development Goals, commonly known as MDG’s are eight international development goals established following the millennium summit of the United Nations in the year 2000. These goals range from halving extreme poverty ( defined by the world bank as subsisting on an average of US$1.25 or less a day), to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, providing universal primary education and promoting gender equality among others, all by the target year of 2015. Basing on the 2013 report[1]developed by the ministry of devolution and planning on the status of Millennium Development Goals in Kenya it was highlighted that ‘despite gender equality issues been prioritized in the medium term plan I (MTP) and MTP II of the Kenya Vision 2030. The government has also included gender targets in the performance contracts to mainstream gender concerns within the public sector. However, Kenya is still faced with a wide gap between the genders which emanates from a strong paternal system among most communities as well as traditions and societal norms of the past’[2].

This prompts my questioning if the gender equality goal is achievable in Kenya, more so in the governance sector. In emphasizing the importance of gender to governance issue Dr. Bibi Bakare Yusuf in an interview in Nigeria noted that governance extends beyond government to ways in which CSO’s, private sectors and media are structured and how they relate to government institutions in relation to accountability and other governance issues. Governments are making efforts to develop policies around gender inclusion but more often than not these policies are not translated into
practice. As said by Dr. Bibi, due to the different socialization, women are capable of making more long term and strategic decisions in institutions,
however, women who could add value to institutions and provide alternative modes of leadership are under capacitated and when they manage to get in the system
they are frustrated out.

Some might be of the opinion that having women at all levels of governance may not change much, simply because they ascribe to the school of thought that equity will not change institutional culture. However, I second Dr. Bibi’s idea that the moment we have a critical mass of women and other marginalized groups in an institution the process of transformation is already
on the way.Not to sound pessimistic, I applaud the enormous progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals; however there is still a long way to go towards the transformation of unequal gender power relations and the embracing of gender -sensitive governance.

Am sure we are all witnesses of the wide variety of governance structures around the world, among autonomous nations, as well as within them. The work of INGO’s like the United Nations and African Union just to mention a few has been well noted, particularly their capacity and attempts to affect large-scale change within their territories. My concern remains to be that; left to themselves the INGOs may not completely influence the achieving of the millennium goals in totality.

Isn’t it time that we put on hold the tendency to develop more policies and legislation on gender equality and started implementing and practicing the numerous ones that we have? In an attempt to proceed with and actualize the ambitious post 2015 development agenda in the making, I am of the opinion that all stakeholders need to put their personal interest aside and jointly work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals concluding 2015. Not to incline to one goal but this can start with instituting gender-sensitive governance, putting in practice the policies on gender equality and the numerous constitutional provisions on the same. Just to list but a few of the legislative initiatives on gender development at the National and sectoral level;

Ø Set up of a task force on the review of laws relating to women (1993)

Ø Establishment of the family courts as a division of the High Court ( 2001)

Ø The Public Order and Safety Act (2003) whose section 21 addresses sexual harassment,

Ø The Public Officers Ethics Act (2003)

Ø The Political Parties Bill (2007) – providing for one third representation of women in political parties National Commission on Gender and Development Act (2003)

Ø HIV and AIDS Act (2006) providing for criminalization of deliberate spread of HIV and AIDS by infected persons and providing ease of access to services on HIV and AIDS,

Ø The Sexual Offences Act (2006) addressing sexual abuse. A taskforce has been put in place to oversee implementation of the Sexual Offences Act.

Ø Children’s Act (2001)

Ø Trafficking of Persons Bill

Ø Draft National Land Policy (2007)- provides for co-ownership of family land

[1] http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/mdg/mdg-reports/africa-collection.html

[2] MillenniumDevelopment Goals: STATUS REPORT FOR KENYA - 2013 pg. 11

(The views contained herein are personal sentiments of the author.) Caroline Kioko,

Program Associate:The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA) -


  • By Caleb
  • March 16, 2015
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